Dr. Hillary Goldsher: “Reach higher than you think you should”

I think mental toughness is critical. From the standpoint of tolerating risk and the unknowns and potential roadblocks or even failure. One has to be open to navigating difficult feelings and decisions and moments in order to mobilize a new professional chapter. Minimize the negative self-talk and fearful thinking. Instead, allow the sense of empowerment […]

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I think mental toughness is critical. From the standpoint of tolerating risk and the unknowns and potential roadblocks or even failure. One has to be open to navigating difficult feelings and decisions and moments in order to mobilize a new professional chapter. Minimize the negative self-talk and fearful thinking. Instead, allow the sense of empowerment that comes from deciding to pursue a path that resonates to fill you. As cliché as it sounds, let the journey be as important as the destination. Learn and grow as you move down the road towards change.

As a part of our series about entrepreneurs who transformed something they did for fun into a full-time career, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Hillary Goldsher.

Dr. Goldsher’s journey to becoming a psychologist was an unusual one. In 1998, She graduated from Kellogg school of management with an MBA in Business and worked for over 10 years in a fortune 500 medical supply corporation. There, she worked in sales, marketing and ultimately management where she participated in the positioning and selling of complex medical devices. Dr. Goldsher was very successful in this arena but always felt a pull towards the world of helping others. After a decade in the business world, she could no longer deny this pull and began her pursuit of a doctorate in clinical psychology at the California School of Professional Psychology. She now runs her own business as a Clinical Psychologist in the heart of Beverly Hills, CA

Dr. Goldsher specializes in the treatment of trauma/PTSD, depression/anxiety, couples, family, and parenting. She also works with clients grappling with issues related to the corporate environment due to her extensive experience in the business world. She regularly assists people with the navigation of issues related to conflict, corporate culture, and workplace dynamics.

Outside of her practice, Dr. Goldsher also serves the parenting community in her capacity as a psychologist through a Los Angeles based company called Sleepy Planet. She runs weekly parenting groups and sees private clients in a consulting role. The private consultations consist of parents or families seeking help to address conflict, divorce, and dysfunctional family dynamics. Dr. Goldsher has secured a position as an expert in the psychology community. She appears regularly on various TV outlets including Fox, CNN, and other local news outlets to offer her opinion on her various areas of expertise. She recently appeared on Dr. Drew’s podcast to discuss topics ranging from trauma, eating disorders, bullying, and the psychological ramifications of social media. She is regularly asked to contribute to various publications to offer her expertise and can be found in the virtual pages of,,, and others.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?

In many ways, I had a typical childhood. I grew up in a middle-class suburb outside of Chicago. My father worked and my mother primarily stayed at home with myself and my older brother. We went to school and camp and played with neighborhood children. I would say it was difficult for my parents to facilitate relationships with their children that were emotionally safe and connected. As a result, there was a way in which I turned inward. This dynamic likely began my fascination with the internal life of human beings — how the mind and spirit and soul operate.

What was the catalyst from transforming your hobby or something you love into a business? Can you share the story of your “ah-ha” moment with us?

There actually was a beautifully memorable ah-ha moment that truly cemented my life mantra…which is to pursue experiences, work and relationships about which you are deeply passionate. I had already started to somewhat use this notion as a guide in my early 20’s. As a direct result, I pursued theatre acting in my early 20’s in Chicago (never having acted in my younger years.) Soon thereafter, I started experiencing a degree of success. The notion that success could be coupled with something that I absolutely loved was life-changing. From that point forward, I made a deep and full commitment to pursue the alignment of my passion(s) with my professional life. I didn’t want to spend another day doing something that I didn’t love as my forever career. I wanted to feel about my work how I felt on stage — invigorated, inspired, and excited.

I had been in the business world since I graduated from college. I worked at a prestigious fortune 500 healthcare company in sales and marketing. I earned my MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. I was poised to continue climbing the corporate ladder. But my acting pursuits shined a much-needed light on my other life -long passion….my fascination with the internal lives of human beings. And, my desire to help others. I had always kept a hand in this world by volunteering at various shelters and hospital settings for children and families who were sick or in need. In the back of my head, I imagined a world in which I could become an expert in understanding and helping others. Where I could truly make an impact in the world and in people’s lives.

These realizations, ambitions, and passions came together in this ‘ah-ha’ moment. I would pursue a life in which I could serve others. I wouldn’t spend another day doing work that didn’t move me in my heart and soul. Everything changed after that. I was going to become a psychologist.

There is no shortage of good ideas out there, but people seem to struggle in taking a good idea and translating it into an actual business. How did you overcome this challenge?

There’s no doubt that it is hard. And there’s also no doubt that it sometimes doesn’t work the first time. It can be risky and messy and anxiety-provoking. I think most people get stuck in fear and remain in a sort of mental paralysis. It is vulnerable to change — to stretch outside our comfort zone. And there is a chance of failure. But there’s also a chance of success. And there is guaranteed satisfaction in the trying. The doing. My desire to live a life infused with passion became more powerful than fear. I knew I was the only agent of change in this regard in my own life. For me, the path was clear. I would become a psychologist. A doctor of the mind. I would spend my life helping others.

In many ways, my personal path was clear. I had to go to school and pursue a degree. I had to adjust my time and commitment allotted for my corporate work so I could facilitate this great change. I had to tolerate the numerous sources of fear — fear of failure, fear of financial instability, fear of losing my “corporate” identity which provided a certain status and level of comfort and familiarity and more. I had to become a student again.

What advice would you give someone who has a hobby or pastime that they absolutely love but is reluctant to do it for a living?

I think mental toughness is critical. From the standpoint of tolerating risk and the unknowns and potential roadblocks or even failure. One has to be open to navigating difficult feelings and decisions and moments in order to mobilize a new professional chapter. Minimize the negative self-talk and fearful thinking. Instead, allow the sense of empowerment that comes from deciding to pursue a path that resonates to fill you. As cliché as it sounds, let the journey be as important as the destination. Learn and grow as you move down the road towards change.

It’s said that the quickest way to take the fun out of doing something is to do it for a living. How do you keep from changing something you love into something you dread? How do you keep it fresh and enjoyable?

It’s inevitable that the source of passion that pivots to a source of income is going to inherently change your relationship with that passion to some extent. I think accepting that upfront is a key component. There will be parts of it that aren’t as sexy or fulfilling. Letting that be ok is critical. Savor the parts that are and don’t get overly attached to the parts that aren’t. And always remain a student of your passion. Continue to learn. Continuing education will always infuse new life into your chosen work.

What is it that you enjoy most about running your own business? What are the downsides of running your own business? Can you share what you did to overcome these drawbacks?

I run my own private practice. All aspects of running a business are under my jurisdiction. Working for myself and crafting a practice that is most aligned with my areas of interest is infinitely rewarding to me. Dealing with the more administrative parts of running a business can be mundane or even stressful. I regard it as part of the “rent to pay” for the privilege of doing what I love. I don’t overthink it or lament it. I just do it so I can get to the good parts!

Can you share what was the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?

The idea of helping people vs the experience of helping people is very different. It is humbling, rewarding, compelling, and life-changing. The level of I have in my clients is indescribable and visceral. Imagining how it was going to feel could never have prepared me for the depth of the feeling. The rewards are far greater than I could have anticipated.

Has there ever been a moment when you thought to yourself “I can’t take it anymore; I’m going to get a “real” job? If so, how did you overcome it?

Not for me. Of course, there are moments when I am tired or overwhelmed or feel above capacity. But those moments are part of being alive…part of being human. We just have to figure out how to get through those moments with some grace. Self-compassion and self-care are critical in that pursuit.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I remember feeling incredibly anxious about my office furniture. So concerned about the right pillows and couch and bookshelf. I didn’t want to make the wrong decision and I badly wanted my space to reflect who I am. In retrospect, the “stuff”, although important, is not what comprises the essence of my practice. Who I am and who my clients are in the heart of the work that I do. The patterns of the pillows are ultimately not a critical factor. Translation: don’t sweat the small stuff. Spend time and energy on the parts of your work that have the greatest impact.

Who has inspired or continues to inspire you to be a great leader? Why?

There are a number of people in my life who have informed how I move through the world and how I move through my work as a psychologist. Leaders that successfully bridge the pursuit of taking care of people with the goal of commercial success most resonate with me. Success is a good thing. I don’t begrudge it. I seek it. But I always seek to have it aligned with helping others. With lifting others up in some way….

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

In my view, my success rides on my ability to help others. To the extent that I have helped others manage mental health issues, improve self-concept, enhance relationships, pursue meaningful work is how I measure my success. A client that reports or shows relief, improvement, and healing provides a great sense of satisfaction. There is no doubt helping others live makes the world a better place. Nothing is more important than human beings having a sense of peace and contentment.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Stay focused — Is a requirement to stay the course when you are mobilizing a new professional season. The results might not come automatically. There may be times when things feel untenable. The pursuit of something magical requires time and patience and hard work. Long nights at school, years of internships, and post-doc work at times seemed endless. Keeping the final goal in mind kept me grounded.
  2. Stay humble — Helping others in many ways is a selfish act. It feels really good to be of service. It is critical to stay focused on the other when you are in the business of helping others. I am blessed to be a conduit of hope and change. I work to keep my intentions focused on that goal.
  3. Reach higher than you think you should — Expanding my work to include media appearances, writing articles, podcasts and more wasn’t a part of my original formula. I allowed my dream to get bigger and I allowed myself to believe I could grow along with my dreams.
  4. Collaborate — staying connected with colleagues and other experts is motivating and enlivening and humbling. It is part of the basic formula for success. Don’t protect or hoard information. Being a leader means learning from other leaders. Embrace all sources of excellence.
  5. Continued Education — Be an eternal student. It is invigorating and a key to maintaining a passion for your work. Never allow this pursuit to dwindle.

What person wouldn’t want to work doing something they absolutely love. You are an incredible inspiration to a great many people. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Mobilizing the notion that vulnerability, insecurity, anxiety, grief, fear, and sadness are NORMAL. These feelings are part of who we all are — it’s what makes us human and unites us across all barriers and obstacles. A movement that would allow these kinds of thoughts and feelings to be acknowledged, discussed, and validated would bring great healing to all. We are not alone in those thoughts and feelings. We are simply human.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” ―C. S. Lewis

This notion is inspiring to me as a therapist and as a human being. Pain and struggle are an inevitable part of the human experience. But it is never too late to utilize your mind and heart and soul to craft a life that better resonates. It is hard work. It is a lifelong work. But to me, it is the only work. We must always be in pursuit of a life that feels safe and infused with love and purpose.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

There are so many people that come to mind that have had a profound impact on the world and on me personally. But I would be thrilled to have a private meeting with Barack Obama. This president declared May National mental health awareness month in 2016. He was brave enough to shine a light on the struggles of many Americans and people around the world. I respect his willingness to elevate such a critical and complex issue. I would solicit his input and assistance regarding a more robust program to bring awareness to and treat mental health struggles. His perspective on leadership, maintaining integrity, and managing conflict and collective trauma would be invaluable. But above all, his essence — the part of him that radiates care and compassion — is compelling to me and to the world. Learning as much as I can from someone who shows up in this way, on all his days, would be life-altering.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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